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Full text of "A history of Persia"

MUZAFFAR-U-DIN.

CHAPTER LXXXII
THE   GRANTING   OF   A   CONSTITUTION   TO   PERSIA
I do not like the fashion of your garments.    You will say they are Persian
attire ; but let them be changed.—SHAKESPEARE, King Lear.
The Origin of the Constitutional Movement.—The origin
of the movement in favour of constitutional government
in Persia is quite recent.1 Nasir-u-Din, although
extremely fond of European tours, did not encourage his
subjects to follow his example, nor did he as a rule permit
the sons of the Persian nobility to be educated abroad.
Consequently, European thought and ideas penetrated
into Persia but little during his reign ; and although, as
we have seen, an agitation arose against the Tobacco
Regie, there was nothing in the shape of a popular
demand for a constitution.
During the reign of the timid Muzaffar-u-Din fear of
the Shah weakened and respect diminished. External move-
ments, too, such as the defeat of Russia by Japan, reacted
on the internal situation. Moreover, the number of
Persians who, by reason of acquiring a European language,
posed as leaders of their fellow-countrymen increased
enormously. Among them were a few well-educated
men, but the large majority were ignorant and intensely
arrogant. Finally, the strong feeling against the loans
and the use to which their proceeds were put was
1 This chapter is based mainly on enquiries made by me from a large number of my
Persian friends, some of whom have played a distinguished part in the constitutional
movement. I have also consulted the Blue Books. Browne, in his Persian Revolution,
has sometimes allowed his heart to run away with his judgment, and has thereby
weakened the cause he pleads for so earnestly.
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